It is hard to believe, but according to the FBI, almost one million cars are stolen annually. What is even more amazing is what types of vehicles are stolen.
Many people would assume that thieves are going for the exotic race cars and high-end vehicles. In most cases, thieves are looking for easy and high-demand vehicles to steal. The Honda Civic and Accord are currently the most stolen vehicles in the U.S., according to the latest statistics from the insurance industry.
Vehicles are stolen for many reasons. It may surprise you to know exactly what happens to a vehicle when it has been stolen.
4 Most Common Scenarios For Stolen Vehicles
1- Overseas Sales
The leading goal of theft rings is to find high demand vehicles and ship them overseas. These vehicles are shipped in containers on boats to countries that do not have aggressive customs areas and will allow them to enter their country. These countries do not track these vehicles’ origins, and they are sold as used vehicles without any questions asked. All the theft ring did was change the ignition on these vehicles so that they would have keys.
2- Dismantled for Parts
Chop shops get used vehicles and disassemble the entire vehicle for parts to resell. Parts that have a VIN are discarded as scrap, and all other parts are resold. Many vehicles are worth more for their parts than they are being resold as a used vehicle. Chop shops often go for more specialty cars because of the higher price for parts. However, according to the FBI, any vehicle can end up in one of these places.
Sometimes a car theft is about nothing more than a person wanting to go for a joyride. People steal a vehicle for the thrill of it or because they need to get somewhere, that is too far to walk. Most joyrides end up with the vehicle being destroyed because the thieves have no reason to protect the vehicle for resale value. Many vehicles stolen for a joyride are burned at the end of their fun so that any proof of who stole the vehicle is erased.
4- Reselling Vehicle
Sometimes these theft rings will move cars into different states and try to resell them. These theft rings use VIN cloning techniques to appear as if the vehicle is legal to sell. Only later do the buyers discover that the VIN is fake and the vehicle they purchased is stolen. This type of sale mostly occurs when people buy vehicles face-to-face instead of from a car lot.
Tips To Avoid Being A Victim of Car Theft
The best way to avoid car theft is to be aware of what attracts thieves to your vehicle. In addition to the type of vehicle being stolen, car thieves look for the following to make their “job” easier.
1- Never leave your car running when you are not behind the wheel
Even if you are trying to warm your car up before you drive to work in the morning, or you are just running back into the house to grab something you forgot, a running vehicle is an open invitation for theft.
2- Leaving your window cracked open
Many people will leave their window open a crack to allow heat to escape the vehicle when it is parked. Leaving your car window open by an inch is enough room for a thieve to get into your car. If their fingertips can get in the window, they can rock the window off the track, which will cause it to open. They can then enter the vehicle.
3- Dark outdoor areas
The best deterrent around your home is to have motion-activated lights on the outside of your home. If someone approaches a vehicle parked outside or in the driveway, the lights will turn on, making it impossible for them to be discreet. Thieves love dark areas.
4- Hiding a spare key is dangerous
The first thing that thieves check for is hidden spare keys attached to the vehicle. Many people use these devices to prevent lock-outs. This is one of the first things a thief looks for before taking other measures to enter and start the vehicle. If the car is open, the thief may also check the car manual for a Valet Key. Some higher end cars place this key in the owner’s manual as a spare.
How To Avoid Purchasing A Stolen Car
The best way to avoid purchasing a stolen car is to have a VINsmart report run on the vehicle before making the purchase. A VINsmart report will run a complete history on the vehicle including if it has ever been reported as stolen, has been involved in any major accidents, or has been listed as a totaled vehicle.
VINsmart reports will also give you a history of every time the vehicle has been registered, a history of the mileage. They can report any significant incidents related to the vehicle, such as being involved in a fire or flood.
If you are going to purchase a used vehicle, the best way to ensure that you are making a good purchase decision is to know the vehicle’s complete history before you buy.